Town Crier Articles

Landscaping Update: New Landscaping Contractor and Our Area’s Plant Diseases
Posted on November 1, 2022 6:20 AM by Jack Espinal
The largest single cost for the New Town Residential Association’s (NTRA) is landscaping. This past spring we began a process for finding the best possible and affordable landscaping provider for the Association during the next three years. 
This process began with the Landscape Advisory Committee’s (LAC) development of a comprehensive Request for Proposal (RFP). They used their landscaping experience in New Town, past New Town landscaping surveys, and sample RFPs from other communities in the area to draft a new NTRA RFP. Next, the Board of Directors reviewed this document and ensured that it reflected the community’s expectations for landscaping services.
Five Williamsburg area landscaping contractors received the RFP and were invited to participate in a comprehensive tour of our community.  Each of our neighborhoods were visited during the tour and their specific landscaping needs were explained.  
We subsequently received four bids. The pricing and level of services of the four proposals were judiciously compared and evaluated.  The two contractors with the best proposals were selected for interviews.  The Board used these meetings to clarify services and pricing as well as communicate our community’s landscaping policies and expectations.  While the providers were preparing their best and final offers, each of their references were contacted for recommendations.  These recommendations and the contractors final submissions were evaluated and used to select the 2023-2025 NTRA landscaping provider.
During our October Board meeting, the NTRA Board approved James River Grounds Management as our next landscaping service provider. James River has been invited to meet the community at a meeting on November 21 in Legacy Hall.
One of the first services that James River Grounds Management will be providing is a comprehensive audit of the entire NTRA community. This will help prepare them for providing services to the community in 2023 and will also give the Association the information needed for the LAC to develop a draft five-year plan for landscaping improvements.
Hundreds of volunteer hours were spent developing the landscaping RFP and evaluating these proposals. This effort has resulted in the selection of the best and most affordable landscaping services for our community.
Homeowner Notifications of Knock Out Rose Infestation
Knock Out Roses arguably have the most flower power of just about any shrub available in Virginia.  As reported in the July 2022 Town Crier, and first identified by VLL in February 2021, many of the Knock Out roses in New Town have become infected with the Rose Rosette disease which is carried by a tiny mite (Phyllocoptes fructiphylus) that travels by crawling, through air currents, or on clothing and equipment. The mites feed and reproduce on the tips of new growth of rose bushes. The disease causes deformation and discoloration of the bush as shown below if figure 1.  There is no treatment for this disease and trimming back the infected roses will have no effect as the virus remains in the stocks, roots, and in the ground.
Figure 1. Rose Rosette 
The LAC has completed an inventory of all NTRA homes where the disease is present. These homeowners will be formally notified to remove these bushes no later than June 1, 2023. 
The only solution is to completely remove the bushes and the roots of the infected plant. At this point, only the Knock Out roses in New Town have been infected, but this virus is also known to attack all Rose varieties.  No roses should be replanted in the area.
The NTRA will be removing all diseased Knock Out roses from our common areas. We have asked the New Town Commercial Association to similarly eradicate their diseased bushes.
Unfortunately this is not the only plant disease problem that we have in New Town.
Treat your Crepe Myrtle Black Bark Scale Infestations!
Our community has also been attacked by crepe myrtle bark scale (Acanthococcus lagerstroemiae). See April 2022 Crier Article. While it is not a fatal disease, it really stresses the crepe myrtles. Infected trees bloom later in the spring and the blooms tend to be much smaller and fewer than trees that are not infected.  In addition, many of the limbs die and the and the black bark with the white scale becomes an eye sore.
The NTRA is now treating all crepe myrtles in our Association common areas. However, homeowners are responsible for treating their own infected crepe myrtles.  You can tell if your crepe myrtle has been infected by examining the bark. If it is black and has small white specks on it, it has been infected. You may also see snow white crawlers moving up and down the limbs.  If you crush the crawlers or white specks, they will turn blood red. 
Inspect your trees and treat them now! Crepe myrtle bark scale is treated by washing as many of the blackened branches as possible with a mild detergent and then spraying an oil on the infected bark. The soil around the crepe myrtle can also be treated with a soil drench of imidacloprid or dinotefuran when crepe myrtles begin to leaf out in the spring.  Fertilizer can also be applied at that time to help the tree remain healthy.
Working together as a community on both infestation problems will help keep our plantings healthy and beautiful.
Posted on November 6, 2022 9:50 AM
As a homeowner, I would like to see the other bids from contractors for landscaping services. My HOA dues pays for this service so all homeowners have the right to know that our dues are being managed for affordable services. These bids allow us to see what or how the BoD is selecting contractors to ensure that our best interest is being meant. These bids should be posted on the NTRA website for all to see.

REPLY: Contract bids are considered proprietary property of the vendors. They are treated as confidential information and handled in Executive Session by the Board. They are not publicly releasable documents. This question was explained by our legal counsel at the December 16, 2021 Annual Meeting in response to a similar request from a Member.

Requests to examine association records must be made by an individual Member using the NTRA Record Request Form:>
See the exclusions for release of information in the Virginia Property Owners Association Act, VA 55.1-1815 C.

Last Edited: 11/07/2022 at 09:48 AM